CVFA celebrates Champion Scholars SOFA graduates

The Catawba Valley Furniture Academy recently celebrated its Champion Scholars Students of Furniture Appreciation (SOFA) program graduates.


SOFA  - Students of Furniture Apprenticeship

Among those students recognized during the graduation ceremony included Jonathan Smith, Ulises Fuentes Rojo, Gary Baker, Chenoa Lee, Rosemary Eilerman and Gabriel Gibson.

Attending the graduation were Karen Ingram with Hickory Public Schools; Dr. Jeff Isenhour and Russell Gentry with Catawba County Schools; Kelly Beach with Geiger Furniture; Paula Daniels with Sherrill Furniture; Marta Truitt with CR Laine Furniture; and Mindy Solano with HBF Textiles.

The Champion Scholars SOFA program is a seven-week summer pre-apprenticeship program that can lead to a full Apprenticeship program, provides an opportunity to learn skills in our Furniture Fundamentals class and receive 135 hours of paid hands-on training with one of CVFA’s furniture partners.  

“The furniture partners have been working together to revive our industry and engage our local young people,” said Paula Daniels with Sherrill Furniture. “Through the Students of Furniture Apprenticeship (SOFA), high school students have the opportunity to work in our furniture manufacturing facilities while earning school credit. This summer, Sherrill Furniture had the pleasure of partnering with local high schools and the Catawba Valley Furniture Academy (CVFA) to employ two apprentices, Chenoa and Ulises. We were all very impressed with their work ethic, enthusiasm, and self-motivation. We hope this paid apprenticeship through SOFA has helped them to realize the earning potential and vast opportunities that the furniture industry will offer after they complete high school.”

The SOFA program provides high school students ages 16-18 with the knowledge and skills needed to develop an exciting new career in furniture with the ultimate goal of being able to explore a career as a skilled craftsman (sewing, upholstery, manual cutting, automated cutting, pattern-making, and spring-up).

“HBF is grateful to participate in the SOFA program,” said Mindy Solano with HBF Textiles. “It gives young talent, the chance to experience first-hand, the craft of making beautiful furniture. Our student, Rosie, impressed us with her work ethic and enthusiasm at learning a new skill every week. This allowed her the ability to visualize her career growth opportunities. We are excited to have Rosemary joining the cutting team at HBF as she continues her apprenticeship with CVCC.” 

Through the SOFA program, students earn money, high school credit, college certificates, a state certificate and explore different careers in the furniture industry.

“It has been an honor for Geiger Furniture to participate with the SOFA pre-apprenticeship program this summer,” said Kelly Beach with Geiger Furniture. “Our student Jonathan Smith was eager to learn. He had great attendance, was punctual and took every opportunity to learn as much about the upholstery process as possible. We look forward to continuing to partner with CVCC and the SOFA program in the future.” 

The SOFA program was formed through the collaboration of CVCC's Catawba Valley Furniture Academy, the North Carolina Community College System and ApprenticeshipNC, Western Piedmont Community College, Catawba County Schools, Hickory Public Schools, Newton-Conover City Schools, Century Furniture, CR Laine Furniture, Geiger International, HBF Textiles, Hickory Chair, Lexington Home Brands, Restoration Hardware, Sherrill Furniture and Vanguard Furniture. 

“We feel fortunate to have been a part of the development and implementation of the SOFA program,” said Marta Truitt with CR Laine. “Our group wanted to reach young people and their parents and let them know the opportunities that are available in furniture. This program gives students a chance to dip their toe into the furniture industry and hopefully decide to pursue furniture manufacturing as a career.”  

For more information on the SOFA program, please contact CVCC's Corporate Development Center at 828-327-7000, ext. 4294 or visit the Student of Furniture Apprenticship (SOFA) program.

Front row, from left, Jonathan Smith, Ulises Fuentes Rojo, Gary Baker, Chenoa Lee, Rosemary Eilerman, Karen Ingram (Hickory Public Schools), Kelly Beach (Geiger) and Paula Daniels (Sherrill Furniture). Back row, from left, Gabriel Gibson, Dr. Jeff Isenhour (Catawba County Schools), Russell Gentry (Catawba County Schools), Marta Truitt (CR Laine Furniture), and Mindy Solano (HBF).

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